Regardless of how technology advances or the population grows, dating can be challenging for anyone. It’s particularly challenging for marginalized groups who often face scrutiny based not only on their appearance, but on their sexual orientation and ethnicity as well.

Members of the LGBT community have outlined some of the struggles they face in dating, particularly with online dating being the norm. Here are four challenges to consider if you’re an LGBT person or have a friend who needs support while dating.

Scrutiny from the Heterosexual Community

For many LGBT people, coming out of the proverbial closet is a huge decision. The protection of that anonymity often lingers in the back of their mind. The reason so many members of this community use specifically targeted gay or lesbians site for dating is to avoid some of the ugliness that the LGBT community faces even today in our modern times.

Hatred from heterosexual people online is a lot to handle on top of the everyday ugliness that most online daters have experienced at one point or another. From ghosting to outright verbal abuse, the online dating community has made it so that people forget that the person on the receiving end is a person like them. While heterosexual women have a library of dating horror stories to share, LGBT people have that extra target painted on them as well.

Blatant Racism and Body Shaming

Things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows within the LGBT community. Many gay men find themselves subjected to blatant racism and body shaming in the dating community. The same rules don’t seem to apply within the LGBT universe. People will openly identify what they will and will not accept in regards to race and body types.

This racism and body shaming goes both ways – either a person is rejected because of it or is fetishized and not treated like a person with thoughts and feelings. Yes, of course, this happens within the heterosexual dating community. However, for reasons unknown, the LGBT community is far more open about it.

Lack of Options in Rural Communities

For a heterosexual person, it can be hard to find someone to date in a small town. It may seem as though everyone available is related to you or one of your close friends dated at some time. Now, imagine being in a small community while applying the average of 4% of the population being LGBT – which, let’s face it, is more likely to be centralized around urban areas. In a nutshell, the window of opportunity is small at best.

When you live in a rural community where there is still a lot of scrutiny about the LGBT community and fewer people are “out” because of it, dating can be a nightmare. Many of those who do find someone to date feel as though they have to keep their relationship a secret or meet somewhere else to feel safe and secure.

Casual Interactions

Many members of the LGBT community who are interested in finding a long-term partner report significant challenges with this. The expectation of casual interactions often overshadows those who are sorting through the options to find a serious intimate connection. For many gay men in particular, it can be challenging to find someone online or at an outing or event when trying to find a potential serious partner.

While this issue is spoken about more frequently by gay men, lesbian women have a unique set of issues that fall under this umbrella as well. They’re often contacted by other women looking to experiment or test their sexuality or couples looking for an outside party to join them in the bedroom. Apps like Tinder and Grindr that were created with lesbian women in mind often become a cesspool of men looking to prey on vulnerable females. Things get even more challenging for those who identify as trans.

Dating can feel like navigating a minefield that can sometimes make everyone feel like staying home and watching Netflix in their sweatpants. However, the first step of correcting problems is raising awareness about it so the hive mind can start to work toward a solution.

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